Another Healing

Another Healing

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Daughter's Bear

Last night was one of those interesting nights that will probably turn up in a story somewhere. (And not THAT kind of interesting!)

I was innocently driving home about 10:00 when my cell phone rings. It's my teenage daughter, freaking out. There's a bear outside. She just saw it through the sliding glass door -- a big, black, fuzzy shape running into the woods. The dog is going ballistic. She is hiding under her bed. (Daughter, not dog. Dog is still barking frantically.)

This has happened before, seeing a bear come out of the woods. It's why I stopped feeding birds during the summer a few years ago. We haven't had one around since. I, of course, panic at the thought of only a screen door between my child and a ferocious wild animal with teeth and claws that growls and stands up on its hind legs. (I also wonder why she called me and not her father, who is driving the van ahead of me. I guess even when you're a teenager and you freak, it's Mom you dial.)

So I keep her on the phone until we lose service in the hills, reassuring her that the bear was last seen running away, it won't try to get in with the dog barking (golden retriever, very protective), and how cool it is to see such an unusual animal, and trying to turn off my writer brain that is showing me coming home and finding them both bleeding, or worse.

A few minutes later, my husband, who has no idea of the mayhem awaiting us, pulls into the driveway, which is fairly long, and comes to a dead halt as soon as his headlights pick up the house. I almost slam into him. And in our headlights, I see not one, but three huge forms racing across the lawn. I think I screamed. One bear I can cope with. Not three.

And then I realize that the bears are galloping, not running, and they have very long legs for bears, and that they are, in fact, our neighbor's three horses. I am so weak with relief that I can hardly call her from the car to tell her that her babies are loose and have come over for the apples on the ground below our trees.

The horses are in full panic mode, set off the sudden arrival of two cars and headlights, not helped by the frantic dog inside. I hop out, so relieved that they aren't bears, shut off my scary headlights, and head onto the lawn toward them (they know me, since I feed them when their owners are gone). I really don't want them heading for the main road. They recognise me and stop racing around. They trot over, I catch hold of the only one wearing a halter (who, incidentally, is small, fuzzy and black), and start up a conversation with the other two. They all seem to think I'm more interesting than the apples underfoot. I grew up with horses and always enjoy their company.

Then I realise for the first time that my husband has only just gotten out of the van, whose headlights are lighting us up now. And he is not coming up onto the lawn. He has never been around horses, and he calls up in a shaky voice,"You okay up there?"

I answer that they're fine, just after the apples, and that I've got hold of them, and they aren't heading for the road, and I added that they aren't bears. Of course, he has no idea why I would say that, and then the neighbors arrive with a bucket of grain, and are very happy that I've gotten everybody calmed down and under control. They all leave, my daughter comes out, we park the cars, and then I realise my husband is still staring at me with an odd expression. "You are quite the horse tamer," he said, and I see it for the first time as he must have -- me heading in the dark into a melee of panicked horses.

So we both had a jolt of fear for someone we love last night. I guess it's all relative.

But how my daughter could mistake a black pony for a bear is beyond me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Intense Week

This has been an intense week that's left my head spinning a little, in a good way. The Charity Sips have flown and seem to be winging their way into people's hearts, and the authors have been busy squeeing away in a very long release day party that is in its second week. It's been wonderful to be part of the group led by the never-wearying J. Rocci. Reviews are coming in already -- check out my review sidebar -- and my Goodreads page is, well, hopping is an understatement.  I'm getting a double dose of excitement because a really nice review of Notice over on Coffeetime Romance was just posted, too. Give it a read.

Now I'm trying to take a deep breath and figure out what to do next.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Wow, so earlier this week I responded to the interview questions that J. Rocci posted for the Charity Sip authors, which were posted on LJ and now some of them have been put up on the Grave Tells blog. Mine was one of them, with a link over here, so if anybody is clicking over from that, first let me say that I really am okay and that I have a wonderful life, friends, family, and career. To be honest, what happened to me that year in middle school is not something I spend a lot of time thinking about any longer, and even when I wrote my story My Boyfriend Has a Scar, it wasn't up front in my mind. My character Gage was abused not by his peers but by his father, and that certainly never happened to me.

It really wasn't until I read the question, "Does this have any personal significance for you?" that an absolute floodgate opened in my head, and I was kind of stunned at how much I really could remember about that terrible year in middle school when I became a target for a gang of bullies, and how absolutely, deathly frightened of school I became. I honestly believed that there was something wrong with me, that I was somehow deserving of that terrible treatment, and I was mortally embarrassed by that kind of attention. After all, I was told by a teacher that it was my fault for putting up with it, and if I just stood up for myself and stopped crying, I could make it stop.

After the guidance councilor finally put at end to it, I was left with a feeling of vulnerability that has never really gone away, and I don't think I've ever regained the confidence in myself that I had before that year. I'm shy and perfectly happy to blend into a corner when in a crowd, watching my back, always just a little bit on guard.

On the other hand, I learned that there's not much that I can't live through after that, and nothing has been quite as bad as that year was. As to why it happened, why I was a target for such emotional and physical violence, I don't know. I was different -- I was shy, imaginative, an only child, more interested in being outside with my horse than in shopping or watching TV the way everyone else did. I was who I was, and that didn't fit the norm. I wasn't targeted for being gay -- I don't think we even knew what gay meant back then, and I'm not -- but, God, if the kids today who are gay and being bullied feel what I felt, then I truly understand why ending it all has such an appeal.

Now I'm a teacher myself, (well, technically a special ed writing tutor) and I may be shy, but I am a lioness when I get the whiff of any bullying going on. And I'm proud to say that the district where I work, which is the same one that I was in when I was bullied, now would treat my situation very differently.

It was also in sixth grade that I began to write, and where I ultimately found my refuge and my healing. And, in a way, with this story, I think I've come full circle.

Below are my responses to the interview questions:

Question 1: How did you choose the plot and characters of your story for the Charity Sip Blitz?

This is my thunderstorm story. I wrote it back in June, when Vermont was locked in a pattern of torrential rain, wild thunder and lightning, strong winds, and flooding. It was impossible to think of anything else, when every night I went to bed worried I wouldn't be able to get down our road the next morning, and all day at work, I worried that I wouldn't be able to get home where my pets were waiting. So when I sat down to write this Sip, it was inevitable that a storm was a key element. The characters and plot were born of the storm -- the inner reflecting the outer, so to speak. The day after I finished the first draft, I honestly drove home into the exact scenario my characters faced with water flowing over the road (okay, not quite so deep, but almost). I felt like there was no difference between my life and my fiction while I wrote this, and even right now, as I sit down to answer these questions, there is thunder in the distance. There is really something weird going on here.

Question 2: Why did you decide to participate in the Charity Sip Blitz?

I like to feel like I'm making a difference, somewhere, somehow, with my writing, and this just feels like a good thing to do.

Question 3: Does the theme, It Gets Better, have any personal significance for you?

Hell, yeah. I was bullied one year in middle school, badly. I was taunted, hit, shoved, had my possessions stolen and destroyed, and I was pushed down a flight of stairs. The worst thing that happened was having my stall door in the bathroom kicked open, then having the lights shut out and being left alone in the dark to find my way out. I became absolutely terrified every moment that I was at school. My parent's advice didn't help. The teacher I told only made things worse. Finally, and I am so incredibly grateful to her, a friend took charge and forced me into my guidance councilor's office, where she proceeded to explain what was going on. Fortunately, the guidance councilor acted -- the next day, she got all the girls who'd been bullying me, and their parents, into her office, and that was the end of it. Sort of. Twelve-year-old me didn't know I needed some help getting over it, and schools didn't think about that kind of thing then. I know I still have scars inside from what happened that year. I can't go into the building today without feeling sick. Whenever I go down that flight of stairs, I hang on tightly to the railing and feel the old pain in my ankle, and when I finally made myself go into that bathroom again, thirty years later, I burst into tears. But they were good tears, tears of thankfulness that I survived. Because, without what my friend did for me, I don't think things would have turned out all right.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Teammates by M. Durango: a Review by M. Raiya

Teammates by M. Durango
Review by M. Raiya 
This story draws the reader in with that universally dreaded moment when you put your key in the ignition, turn it over, and nothing happens. For Cory, this is really not good -- he's about to leave college for winter break, his dorm will soon be locked up, home is three hours away, and he knows nothing about cars. He is stranded and alone.
Rescue comes in the form of Jeff, Cory's old crush from high school. Jeff was the star of the basketball team and hung out with the homophobic bullies who'd made Cory's life miserable. Cory always assumed Jeff was quite straight. In other words, completely unattainable. But Jeff gives Cory a ride home, little realizing that within a few days, he's going to need a rescue, himself. As the tale unfolds, the two young men realize they have way more in common than they'd ever guessed.
I really like how this story shows both sides of the bullying issue. Bullying hurts everyone involved, not just the victim. This tale of awakening self-awareness, and passion, rides on strong dialogue and sympathetic characters. It's a great example of how people grow and change over time, and shows that life does, indeed, get better.

Author Biography:
"M. Durango ~ Mar to her friends ~ has been writing on and off since her first foray into fanfic at the age of 8. Sometime in 2003, she discovered m/m romance and was hooked. Finally figuring out what she wanted to do with her life at the early age of 34, she quit her corporate job, bought a bunch of writing books, and set out to learn how to create characters, dialog, and actual plots.
Mar grew up in New Jersey and has lived in the Pacific Northwest since the mid-90s with her scientist hubby and incredibly loud cat."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Year's Charity

This will be my second year supporting Torquere's charity project, along with more than thirty other authors who have written a story for the cause. Here's the official announcement for the project, and the awesome cover.

In 2008, Torquere Press' fantastic authors decided to support a charity with an annual short story collection called our Charity Sip blitz. In the past three years, we've donated more than $13,000.00 to charitable organizations that support GLBT causes.

For 2011, Torquere's authors have chosen the theme "Getting Better" in honor of the It Gets Better project, which helps LGBT youth understand that life as an openly queer adult is not only possible, but happening for millions of people, worldwide. More than thirty authors have written short fiction pieces and have agreed to donate all proceeds of the sales of these stories to this year's charitable organization. Torquere Press Inc. will match the authors' donations completely.

 This year, we're also pleased to announce that our distribution partner, Rainbow eBooks, has agreed to be the title sponsor of our Sip collection, and will be our sole distributor outside of the Torquere Books website. Please support our sponsor by visiting them at

Torquere Press and our authors truly believe we can make a difference by donating to organizations that promote awareness and equality. If you'd like to help, please support the Charity Sip Blitz and enjoy some great romance today!

 Available September 17, 2011 at and

Saturday, September 10, 2011


When I need one of those head-clearing breaks from about ten projects I'm in the middle of (like right now) I grab my camera (Nikon D50), put on my 300mm lens, and head outside. I have to literally focus on something else, and it's so refreshing to be surrounded by a visual world and not a written one for a while.

A week from today, my Charity Sip, "My Boyfriend Has a Scar," will be released into the world along with thirty some odd others, to show the world that It Gets Better. I got the story back from the proofreader a few days ago, gave it a final polish, and sent it off. I'll write more about it next week.

I also found out that my Steampunk story, "Origin" has been accepted for publication in Torquere's Shifting Steam Anthology, due out sometime this fall. More dragons there! My guys from "The Dragon and his Knight," in the Mine Anthology, will be making a reappearance.

The other project I've thrown myself into is -- drum roll -- a Christmas themed short story, featuring the guys from Notice!  I've been getting such wonderful feedback over on Goodreads that I felt inspired to write more about them.  Notice takes place in the fall, and I got to wondering how Varian and Josh would be celebrating their first Christmas together.  I've been having heaps of fun finding out.  Stay tuned.

Anyway, these are some of the shots I got today, when I should have been at the computer writing.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Eight Ball

Here is the information about the eighth anniversary celebration going on right now at Torquere Press.  Yes, there is an eight ball hidden in one of my posts!  Good Luck ;)

The Eight Ball will help celebrate our eighth anniversary here at Torquere Press! Join us for the celebration!
We're having a reader scavenger hunt with weekly gift basket prizes and a grand prize (this year, a brand-new 3G Kindle along with a CD of stories from each participating author), plus daily prizes of gift certificates to show our appreciation to you -- our readers! Check our blog, where we'll have a number of our authors visiting the whole month. We'll post excerpts, hang out to chat, and talk about our stories.

In addition to the grand prize of the Kindle, we're giving away gift baskets every week! Some are silly, some are smutty, and all are fun. The themed ones are: m/m, ménage, BDSM, and lesbian plus our authors have chipped in with extra goodies.

Here's how to play. Visit our contest page,, and start scavenging for the Eight Ball answers. Visit the author pages and find the graphic somewhere on their site. An online form is set up, and we'll randomly choose a winner for the Kindle from all of the correct entries. Plus, every day, readers will have the chance to win a Torquere gift certificate and a gift basket.

Help us celebrate our eighth anniversary and ask the Eight Ball your question… Like, will I win a prize from Torquere Press?

Thanks, and have fun playing.